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Archive for : Staff

Passing the Torch, Until We Meet Again

I first met many of you in 2018-2019 when I was describing the vision for Repair the World Atlanta. I had over 300 stakeholder meetings that year, and gathered so much wisdom to feed into the  design of what would become Repair’s eighth community program. I felt like a dreamer, a salesman, or someone with an imaginary friend. Only now do I recognize that investing in the promise of something that doesn’t yet exist is also a kind of faith.

Together with the Atlanta community, we have built an organization fully equipped and deeply committed to service grounded in Jewish values. We have over 40 alumni of our immersive service programs who can lead their peers in deep learning and meaningful volunteerism. We have marshaled over 8000 volunteers in more than 15,000 acts of service and learning, providing over 24,000 hours to local nonprofits. We’ve partnered with more than 30 Jewish organizations. We’ve fostered connections and facilitated dialogue. We’ve taught Torah in fields and talked racial justice in synagogues. Through our invaluable partner Concrete Jungle, we helped stand up an emergency Grocery Delivery Program that fed 400 families for 18 months of the pandemic.

Four years later, the world may be even more in need of repair than when we started. The difference is that Repair now exists in Atlanta as a place to convene, a way to find meaningful work and the people to do it with. Atlanta Repair exists to meet urgent needs in our community, to kindle hope in each other, to support one another in living our Jewish values through consistent, persistent learning, and small acts of care that propel us toward justice and wholeness.

It has been my honor to serve with you all. And now it’s time for me to make way for up and coming Jewish young adult leaders. My last day at Repair the World is May 6. I will remain in Atlanta with my family and I look forward to continued relationships with so many of you who put your shoulders to the wheel with me these last four years.

We have a talented team to carry Repair into its next phase: Senior Program Associate Paige Godfrey, and rising second year Fellows Emma Burns and Palmer Rubin, soon to be joined by two incoming Fellows. We have a strong, wise and committed Advisory Board. We’re also hiring for a new City Director to shape Repair’s future here in Atlanta. I hope you’ll be part of that future too.

Thank you for your faith. Until we meet again,

Lily Brent

Find out from Repair Alumni How Service Changes Lives

Repair the World’s fellowship makes an indelible impression on all who participate. This year, the program expanded from one to two years, doubling fellows’ opportunities to build the capacity of local nonprofit service partners and exponentially increasing their growth as Jews, professionals, neighbors, and as citizens.

Hear from seven of our Former Fellows who now work as Repair the World Staff, how service changes lives.

How will you invest in Repair fellows and their communities?

Make a gift today

Tori Burstein (she/her)
Brooklyn 2018-19 

Today: Senior Associate, Office of the President 

“Because of my fellowship, I’m much more engaged in Jewish life. It’s been really influential to have made strong ties to local organizations in the city where I participated in the fellowship, and to have met mentors and colleagues who continue to be so important to me. The Repair alumni community has been essential. I communicate and get together regularly with the folks from my cohort — we even did a Hanukkah gift exchange for the fourth year in a row! It feels great knowing that I have a group of people with similar values, shared interests, and common experience.”


Danna Creager (she/her)
Harlem 2018-19

Today: Development Assistant 

“The Repair Fellowship reaffirmed my passion for food system change by allowing me to work alongside two anti-hunger community based organizations. Working alongside these partners, who directly serve people for whom the current food system is not working, gave me new perspectives and a deeper understanding of how much the food system needs to change.”


Annie Dunn (she/her)
Pittsburgh 2015-16

Today: Senior Program Associate, Pittsburgh

“My fellowship experience granted me the opportunity to engage deeply in authentic relationship building and address food insecurity in public housing communities. Giving of my time and energy to meet immediate community needs fulfilled me in a deeper way than I had previously known. The Repair fellowship granted me the opportunity to explore what gives meaning to my life, and to ultimately live my values out loud.”


Emily Erves (she/her)
Miami 2019-20, NYC 2020-21 

Today: Marketing Assistant

“The most rewarding part of this work was to be able to share common values of service and to support community members who were looking for opportunities to invest in their community in ways that felt particularly meaningful to them. Repair helped elevate my skills as a service leader. I’ve found ways to foster authentic relationships between volunteers and community partners to create sustainable and lasting partnerships.”


Elaine James (she/her)
Pittsburgh 2018-19

Today: Senior Data Associate 

“Being part of the Repair community is very rewarding. Extending the fellowship to two years will allow for even greater buy-in from the fellows. Additionally, with more time to work with their community, they can create deeper relationships than they would in one year. Fellows will be able to take on larger or longer-term projects.”


Rose Osburne (she/her)
Pittsburgh 2018-19

Today: Marketing and Recruitment Associate 

“My time as a Fellow was incredibly special because of the connections I made with the welcoming and wonderful Pittsburgh community. The heartbreaking part was finishing up after only 11 months. By extending the Fellowship to two years, Fellows are going to be provided valuable time to create deeper connections and impactful projects/ideas. This will truly be an investment in themselves and their communities, providing everyone more opportunities to achieve their visions.”


 Sam Sittenfield (he/him)
Pittsburgh 2014-15, Brooklyn 2015-16 

Today: Director of National Partnerships

“Without my experience with Repair the World, I might not have found the ways to plug into the inspiring social justice work in all of the communities where I’ve lived since then. Pursuing the connections between Jewish life and social justice has become such an animating force in my life that my job is now to equip our partner organizations to do the same.”


 

Your investment makes experiences like theirs possible. As 2021 winds down, there’s still time to reaffirm your commitment to our current fellows and other Repair program participants. Will you make a gift today and provide essential resources and training for Repair fellows and the volunteers they work with across the U.S.?

Let’s fuel progress toward a more just world together

My entire life, my mother has told me my generation will change the world. She grew up in the deep south watching antisemitic groups march through her neighborhood, an experience that shaped the way she raised me. I was 3 when she started taking me to rallies for equity and justice. 

Thanks to my parents, I grew up with my moral compass, my religion, and service inextricably linked. For me, there is no Judaism without social justice, and social justice does not exist without Judaism. When I see a wrong, I turn to our sacred texts to figure out how to make it right.

Repair the World does the same. Repair’s model centers on both service and learning. Jewish wisdom gives meaning to our lives, and that meaning becomes a driving force for us to create the world that we want to live in. 

Repair’s participants — fellows, corps members, volunteers — speak glowingly of serving with local nonprofits and strengthening the communities they belong to. But I find it especially gratifying when I hear that, for example, 90% of fellows and 80% of corps members say that their experiences made them feel more connected to Judaism. So an investment in Jewish learning is truly an investment in both the Jewish people and our neighbors.

 

Yours in service and learning,

Trudy Morse (she/her)

Senior Jewish Education Associate

2,400 eggs and a growing service movement

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, a City Council member asked the Jewish community in Brooklyn to help source food for people displaced by the storm. My team and I put out a call for a few dozen eggs … and before the end of the day, the community had donated 2,400! 

Fueled by the sustained generosity of the community, my team and I went on to feed countless people, distribute medical supplies, coordinate legal assistance, and dispatch hundreds of volunteers each day.

This experience opened my eyes to the power of community to address inequity. I embraced the Jewish value of achdoot, or solidarity: the obligation and opportunity each of us has to care for neighbors in crisis. This moment eventually led me to Repair the World.

Today, I’m humbled to lead a growing Jewish service movement — growth that you’re fueling. You made it possible for Repair volunteers to live out their Jewish values through meaningful service, build capacity for our nonprofit partners, and address inequity. And, together, we completed more acts of service and learning than ever (100,273!) this past year and received incredible funding that validates our efforts and powers an even bigger impact.

Over Hanukkah, Repair will share more stories reflecting on our commitment to serving in pursuit of a just world, stories of moving from a moment of service to the service movement. And we’ll ask you to renew your commitment in a way that’s meaningful to you. Just as the light of the menorah grows brighter with each candle that’s lit, our movement grows more impactful with each volunteer who shows up and with each gift that propels our work forward.

For now, I invite you to reflect on the part you play in the service movement: What made you realize service wasn’t just a way to spend a Sunday, but rather an essential part of who you are? When you’re ready, share your personal #MomentToMovement story with me. 

Share your story now

I look forward to hearing from you!

Yours in service,

Cindy Greenberg (she/her)

President & CEO

Creative Approaches to the Sabbatical Year: Debt Relief, Gleaning, Sustainability

The following reflection was written by Lily Brent, Executive Director of Repair the World Atlanta.

In the second month of 5782 (Cheshvan), I’m still thinking about the shmita, or sabbatical year.  The Repair team, and our Atlanta Jewish community, are finding creative ways to interpret this ancient practice for our modern lives.

Deuteronomy 15:1-2 states, “Every seventh year you shall practice remission of debts… everyone who owns a debt, who has one in their hand, shall not press it against their neighbor nor their brother, for God has called for Shmita.” On September 29, Rabbi Samuel Kaye hosted us in the sukkah and taught us about The Temple’s transformative approach to living the spirit of shmita.

“For hundreds of thousands of people living in Atlanta, recovering from illness is not only a physical and spiritual burden – but an extreme financial one as well. Medical procedures cost unfathomable amounts of money for services, and insurance companies denying coverage seemingly at a whim, all while we are at our most vulnerable. Everyone has loved someone who has fallen ill, and most know the dread and shock of opening a medical bill to find out that they owe far more money than they expected; or could ever afford…As a Jewish community, The Temple is taking it upon ourselves to live by the ancient words of our sacred Torah and do our part to alleviate that suffering. We can do this because for everyone $1 we set aside for debt relief, RIP Medical Debt can forgive approximately $100 dollars.”

Atlanta Repair partnered with The Temple and generous donors–small and large–in our community to raise $70,000, which will relieve $7 million in medical debt. Atlantans who earn less than 2 times the federal poverty level, whose debts are 5 percent or more of their annual income, or whose medical debts are greater than their assets will soon be notified that their slate has been wiped clean. I am truly humbled to have been a part of The Temple’s inspired effort where Jewish practice is tangibly changing lives for the better.

Many of us are more familiar with Shmita’s agricultural aspect. Exodus 23:10 reads, “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but in the seventh you shall let it rest and lie fallow. Let the needy among your people eat of it.” This will be Repair’s third year with a fellow supporting our partner Concrete Jungle. As you will see in the spotlight below, Concrete Jungle practices foraging and gleaning year round–“transforming overlooked and underutilized fruit trees and land into a healthy food source for communities in need.”

Finally, in honor of Shmita, I am deeming 5782 Atlanta Repair’s year of organizational sustainability. We have created, invented and expanded rapidly over the last three years–bringing Repair’s Fellowship and Service Corps to Atlanta. This year, I am setting the intention to sink our roots deeper, to cultivate and broaden our base of support, to deepen our learning and reflection, to get even better at what we do best, so that we can grow sustainably far into the future.

 

Our Fellows’ Insight on their Service Partners
Emma:
The people at both Rebecca’s Tent and Historic Westside Gardens have been my favorite part of my experience thus far. Their commitment, drive, and genuine passion for their missions is admirable and they inspire me to root down in my community. They’re also so much fun to be around and make coming to work such a pleasure.

Palmer: The first thing you notice working with both Concrete Jungle and Mind Bubble is the sheer level of care and compassion they bring to the table. They both work in vastly different spaces (food justice and education, respectively) but both are prioritizing the communities they work with above all else. It’s been an amazing start to the fellowship because of them.

Clara Sophia: I am so struck by the joy that the team at PAWkids brings to the work each day. The work can be really heavy, but Miss Latonya and her team choose to meet each person and day with a positive attitude. Even more than attitude, they have the courage to envision a different world. It is so wonderful to be back working alongside the PAWkids team.

Rest to Continue the Journey

The following reflection was written by Lily Brent, Executive Director of Repair the World Atlanta.

This Rosh Hashanah, I felt more ready than ever to turn over a new leaf, and yet a little bit stuck. After the “Summer of Freedom” turned into a “Summer of Disappointment,” I found myself asking whether this year would really be different in all the ways I had hoped. I’ve written often about not losing heart in the face of incremental progress and the many small, relentless, unglamourous acts it takes to make lasting change. In the era of COVID, all of that holds true, and the burden is greater, our steps heavier. COVID has turned out to be a marathon, not a sprint.

We are entering the shmita year–a “year of release.” (Our “In the News” column below explains shmita in greater detail and offers opportunities to participate). Gayanne Guerin of Congregation Bet Haverim shared a music video about shmita made by
Cantor Jessi Roemer. I found it so powerful just to watch other humans breathe. Just as there is deep value in the Jewish ritual of Shabbat, there is so much wisdom in practicing shmita as well. In order to continue our work, we have to rest. For some of us, rest is an act of revolution, something that has been systematically denied by slavery and systemic racism. Our many frontline workers have been keeping an impossible pace and somehow have to find the strength to continue.

What will you release this year? How will you rest? And how will you create the capacity for others to rest? In the spirit of shmita, how can our community together enact a rhythm so that all are cared for, no one feels scarcity, and yet rest is possible?

I’m reminded of our 2020-21 fellow Claire Ruben who reflected, “My service partner, Rebecca’s Tent, is run by a single full-time employee. I run the shelter’s career empowerment program, manage volunteers, coordinate donations, and perform outreach. Beyond direct service, I believe Repair’s greatest impact is how we help experienced community members operate at their fullest potential.”

In 2020-21, Repair the World Atlanta engaged 1,600+ participants in over 5000 acts of service and learning, contributing nearly 10,000 hours of service to our nonprofit partners. We supported Concrete Jungle’s launch of an emergency COVID-19 grocery delivery program. In connection with partners such as Congregation Bet Haverim and Jewish Career & Family Services, the program grew to provide crucial food assistance to 400+ families and 800+ individuals per week for the first 18 months of the pandemic. Last year, we launched a Service Corps program and engaged 36 corps members to serve with 15 organizations.

We pushed ourselves further than we ever thought possible. By volunteering and mobilizing others to volunteer, we also created space for others to rest. In 5782, I’m grateful to be in community with all of you. If you have the capacity, join us to support our community’s resilience. And when you need to, please rest.

Sabbatical Year: How rest and reflection can volunteer new insights on service

By Rabbi Jessy Dressin, Senior Director of Jewish Education
and Wendy Rhein, Senior Director of Philanthropy

Youth Spirit Art Works Volunteer Work Day

It’s spring 2021, and Jaqob Harris (xe/xem/xyr)* has just arrived at 1Hood Media, a Pittsburgh nonprofit, inspired to help meet a pressing need in xyr community. Jaqob is there to assist with election education, but in the process xe gets to know folks in xyr extended community and listens to stories about the experiences of xyr neighbors. Reflecting later, Jaqob speaks of much more than the work xe performed:

“The most significant change for me has to be how much I learned about myself, and how others view the issues we face,” said Jaqob, a member of Repair the World’s Service Corps spring 2021 cohort. “I had the opportunity to think about and look into how we experience modern racism, oppression, discrimination, etc., and how it’s perpetrated throughout national and local systems — as opposed to just being told that it exists.”

As Jaqob learned, sometimes unexpected insights volunteer themselves to us when we serve. This Rosh Hashanah, we welcome a shmita year, or Sabbatical year — a year that invites us to approach things from a different perspective, one that tells us to be open to the unexpected. 

The Torah, Judaism’s foundational text, instructs that every seventh day of the week should be a day of rejuvenating rest. In a concentric circle of time, the Torah further instructs that every seventh year should be a year of reset, recalibration, and release. In Exodus 23:10-11, it is written: “six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield and the seventh you shall let it rest and lay fallow.” This shmita year has simple but profound instructions: let the land lie fallow, release people from their acquired debts, and see what emerges when we take time to learn new things. In Deuteronomy, the Torah further teaches that abundance follows this release. 

At first glance, it seems a shmita year might be a year of refrain, framed by what we do not do. However, the invitation is actually to consider what we can do and can learn when we recalibrate how we approach our actions and commitments. A spiritual reset might make space for more na’aseh v’nishma, the Jewish value of action and learning, which can spur generative growth as we move toward the future.

In its traditional form, a distinct tenet of shmita is leaving fields uncultivated and unplanned so we can notice what might volunteer itself in that time. In an agricultural sense, a volunteer is a plant that grows without the gardener’s intention. Most often volunteers bloom from seeds dropped organically or by animals that leave behind the remnants of a garden forage. They are either nuisances or surprising gifts, depending on your attitude. In a shmita year, we depend on such volunteers — we need the unexpected and unplanned to flourish in the spaces that we decide not to control or cultivate. 

Observing shmita in the 21st century can be a challenge. Most of us do not have fields that we let lie fallow, nor do we possess the power to eliminate major areas of burden that may have fallen upon our neighbors. Yet, there are opportunities to reflect on our spheres of influence, new ways to connect with those we may live in proximity to but not really know, and daily needs that, if met, can relieve momentary burdens that may allow someone a bit of respite during a period of real challenge. There are ample opportunities to approach the year from a place of inquiry and curiosity: How can I reconsider my actions and practices in order to engrain the reminder that there is a greater purpose to the world, especially if we look through a lens of Jewish values and spiritual potential?

The Torah promises us that even if we let go of our plans and expectations, release our desire to be in control, and create our experiences, we will have more than enough to sustain us, as counterintuitive as that may seem. In the last year, when so much changed and we could not gather and serve in traditional ways, Repair the World did not shy away from its mission and goals, but instead doubled down and reimagined what Jewish service could look like through our Serve the Moment initiative, Repair’s pandemic response initiative, that in turn opened Jaqob’s eyes to the ways oppression manifests in the community. 

Rethinking our programming allowed us space for new ideas and new ways of serving — including virtual and smaller group gatherings, such as the Cleveland Vaccine Appointment Network, powered by Cleveland Repair, where young adults ensured those without access to the internet or lacking technology skills could still secure COVID vaccine appointments. 

Repair has learned and grown as an organization in the last year, transitioning from an extraordinary moment to a powerful movement, culminating in a new Service Era in which service is a cornerstone of Jewish life at every age and every stage. 

This September, as the Jewish community enters the first month of the year 5782, Repair will provide you with opportunities to reflect on and deepen your connection with service and community. In the spirit of Repair’s upcoming Sukkot service campaign, you can start by downloading Shelter of Peace, a guide to showing up for our unhoused neighbors and taking responsibility for housing insecurity.

As an organization and individuals, we look forward to spending the coming year reflecting and innovating in the continued pursuit of new perspective and growth. And we encourage you to do the same — to observe shmita by letting go of a limited view of service and instead being open to the learning and growth that volunteers itself when you become present for others. Meet unexpected opportunities and new connections with curiosity. Consider how both your actions and insights may take root and become generative and fruitful well beyond this year. How will you move into this year with open eyes, and how will you steward and cultivate what you learn in the years to follow? 

The shmita year imagines a recalibration and reset necessary for the land, for ourselves, and for our communities to sustain themselves for the long haul. We invite you to serve with us this year and embody the Jewish value of action and learning, so that together we may repair the world incrementally, in ways that can be sustained over time.

*Xe/xem/xyr is a set of gender-neutral pronouns.

 

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Giving Jewishly?

“Believe it or not,” my friend said, “2020 was our organization’s greatest year for giving in our entire history.” As the Executive Director of Repair the World NYC,  I spend a lot of time talking about fundraising. This was the fourth time in a week that I had heard some variation of this sentence. Across the country, donors have stepped up again and again since the start of the pandemic. In this time of immeasurable loss, this time in which the needs have been so great from every single angle, people have felt more compelled to give than ever before. 

When I began the Hadar Jewish Wisdom Fellowship’s Executive Cohort on Power and Money this summer, these realities were top of mind for me. What exactly is behind this momentum, this commitment, this communal response that we are seeing right now? How are people choosing where they give, why, and how much? And, perhaps the biggest question, when are they choosing to give, and when will they choose to stop?

In Deuteronomy 15:4, we read that if there is a “needy person” among us we are to “open [our] hand and lend [that which is] sufficient for whatever they need.” On first reading, this seems right. We should respond when people need help, and we should give differently according to the needs of the person in front of us.  Equity and equality are not the same.  To end food  insecurity – which is defined as lacking access to enough healthy and culturally appropriate food – it is not enough to simply give someone food; we must ensure that it is food that will sustain them and that they are able to eat. Not easy, but a simple enough concept.

During our cohort time, though, we were presented with texts that complicate that concept, and wrestled with the much larger questions: when has one given enough, and who gets to decide that?  In Bavli Ketubot 67b, the rabbis argue about whether it is sufficient to simply support someone enough that they can survive, whether they must be supported enough that they live as they were used to, or whether they must support someone enough to make them wealthy. We discussed this for some time, and many are of the belief that it is never one’s responsibility to give so much that a person in need has “even a horse upon which to ride and a servant to run in front of them.”  We went on to read about the ills that befall someone who asks for what can be considered excessive: wine, fatty meat, etc., which might lead one to believe that this assessment is correct.

However, the text that resonated most for me was this: 

Rabbi Ḥanina knew a certain pauper and was accustomed to send to him four dinars on every Shabbat eve. One day he sent it in the hand of his wife. She came back home and said to him: The man does not need charity…. Rabbi Ḥanina said: This is what Rabbi Elazar said: Come and let us appreciate the swindlers because were it not for them, we would be sinning every day in failing to properly support the truly poor (Bavli Ketubot 67b)

A few days ago my five year old daughter and I walked past someone asking for money on the street. I gave my daughter money to share with them. I heard another parent nearby tell their child that they would not give them money because “they’ll just use it on booze.” In our family we give whenever we have the chance, no matter what we think the person in front of us might do with the money. My husband and I believe that it’s not up to us to decide what is most important in someone’s time of greatest need, so we are raising our children to give people the dignity of that choice. It is true that this means sometimes a person chooses alcohol over food, cigarettes over water, drugs over a bed. For many, those are examples of excess one may not want to support with their money. For us, this goes back to the Deuteronomy text I began with. Who gets to decide what their needs are, and what is sufficient to fulfill those needs? There is power in choices about how we give our money, and these texts offer some Jewish wisdom on how you might choose to use that power.

While we are unlikely to be giving such that we help people have horses and servants, in the United States today we make choices about how to give all the time. As I am writing this, my family is deciding how to give to people impacted by extreme loss in Haiti and Afghanistan this summer of 2021. There has been a lot written about how to choose where to give in times of crisis over the years: should we give to large organizations who we know pay their executive staff a lot of money, but are well connected on the ground? Should we give to small organizations, even without clarity that the money will even get into the places experiencing the deepest need? If we only have so many dollars, is it best to choose one issue or split the money between them? 

As we move into the fall of 2021 and continue living amidst crisis, I am eager to see how people’s giving may change or grow. Perhaps you, reader, have been one of those people who gave more than usual this last year. How did you choose to give? When will you know that it’s been enough? How might you use these texts from Deuteronomy and the Bavli Ketubot to guide you? 

Rachel Figurasmith (she/her) is the Executive Director of Repair the World NYC. 

Voices | The Time Is Now: New Considerations for Enacting Timeless Values

This originally appeared in the Baltimore Jewish Times on May 27, 2020. 

“Repair the World Baltimore recognizes this as a time when we need to work hard as a community to keep others in the forefront of our mind and actions. For those of us who find ourselves “stuck at home” and maybe even a little “bored,” this is likely an indicator that we are in a position of having enough of what we need to get by, and so we should be asking ourselves: “How can I serve others in my community who are experiencing this time as a fight for survival?”

Since early March, Repair the World Baltimore has been discovering creative ways to continue to show up around service and social justice learning in order to respond to both ongoing and new needs.”

Read More

A Spaced Out Seder

By Rabbi Jessy Dressin

This year is my youngest nephew’s first seder. The first grandchild for my parents. The first of the next generation of my family. I pictured the Matzah Ballin’ bib on top of the “I found the afikomen” onesie. And then, it became clear, seder would be different this year. I began to think about how I would still host my family for seder. What would I need to create in order for my family, spanning ages 6 months to 75 years and three thousands miles, to come together virtually?

And then, the texts started to come in. From friends. From neighbors. “What are we gonna do for seder?” and “Are you creating something?” I hadn’t thought about the google doc I was working on for my family seder becoming the document that hundreds of others could use, but I soon realized the document could be a tool for others to meaningful engage with family and friends this Passover, at a time when we need it the most. This season is already difficult enough and I hated the thought that people would give up on the idea of hosting a seder virtually because they were uncertain of how to do so.

I began to adjust the google doc from a resource for my family to a more general resource with guiding tips and helpful advice. I considered the platform and I realized a long seder may not keep people engaged. I realized there was an opportunity for sharing videos and other content in an attempt to create something sensory and engaging. 

With humility, I added some loose instructions. (1) How to make sure everyone would have what they need to participate. (2) Designating someone to lead the seder, who I assume may be different than the person who typically leads the family seder – because technology – a true moment of passing the generational torch. (3) Things to think about in advance and the encouragement that trying to make seder happen this year is an act of resistance to the limitations and barriers the current circumstances place us in.

Circumstances may not be ideal. They may not result in a refined or polished celebration. We may find ourselves feeling limited and uncertain as to how we engage. Yet, the Passover story is about finding our own unique placement in a collective narrative. It is about seeing where we are at each year and how we relate to the timeless themes we are asked to consider at our tables. And, through my work with Repair the World, it is an invitation to think about the various ways that others may be experiencing these narrow and restrictive times. I am so glad to have special Passover resources from Repair to include at my seder table this year. 

Passover is the quintessential ritual that leverages memory as a motivator to act. An invitation to consider the ways that oppressive systems still inhibit people today from living to their fullest potential; to see ourselves as having a role to play in a liberation story that has not fully yet been realized because not all people are free.


Rabbi Jessy Dressin is dedicated to building Jewish connections and helping others find their connection. She worked for the JCCs of Greater Baltimore as a rabbi and director of Jewish life from 2012 until 2019. She now serves as the executive director for the Baltimore chapter of Repair the World. In 2016, Rabbi Jessy was named as one of The Forward’s Most Inspiring Rabbis.